South Africa: DA gives poor grades to ICT ministers

South Africa: DA gives poor grades to ICT ministers

In its annual assessment of the cabinet, the Democratic Alliance has given poor grades to the ministers of communications and telecommunications & postal services.

South Africa’s largest opposition party scored telecoms minister Siyabonga Cwele an “E”, saying he has had “another underwhelming year” at the helm of the key portfolio.

Cwele, the DA said in its report card, “continued to stand in the way of South Africa’s telecoms sector”.

“A near obsession with the Electronic Communications Amendment Bill is likely to yield endless court challenges and uncertainty in an industry where we are quickly being left behind,” it said.

The communications portfolio came in for even sharper criticism from the DA, with the three ministers who have occupied the portfolio in the past year — Faith Muthambi, Ayanda Dlodlo and Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane. The current minister, Kubayi-Nugbane, was given an “F”, the lowest possible grade in the report card.“The long-term sustainability of established structures, such as the the South African Post Office, is not being taken care of and (broadband strategy) South Africa Connect is no closer to fruition.”

“Following Muthambi’s reign of terror, it was hoped that matters would improve, but this was not to be. While the SABC inquiry indicated change for the better, the public broadcaster remains compromised and unprincipled,” the DA said in its assessment.

“The SABC revealed this year that R597m is still owed to creditors and that a R74.4m loss had been recorded in the first quarter. A R3bn bailout had been requested from treasury in light of this shocking mismanagement. We have requested the full particulars of this request. However, the department has refused to comply.”

Wasteful expenditure

The DA said the communications department recorded R145m in fruitless and wasteful expenditure and R4.4bn in irregular expenditure.

“As her first order of business, (new minister) Kubayi announced that she will be reviewing a high court decision limiting her powers to appoint executives. This is cause for major concern and brings into question her commitment to good governance.”

The only other minister with responsibilities in the ICT space — albeit tangentially — is science & technology minister Naledi Pandor, who the DA gave a “C” grade.

“In a year of ANC-flavoured chaos and corruption, Pandor has remained relatively calm and committed to her portfolio. Perhaps due to the manageable size of her department’s budget, there does not appear to be any widespread performance issues,” the party said.

“Unfortunately, the minister does not frequently attend committee meetings, yielding few opportunities to cross-examine her performance.”

Many ministers scored “F” in the report card. President Jacob Zuma was also given a failing grade, while his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, got an “E”.

Source: NewsCentral Media (ViaTech Central)